Would it surprise you if someone pulled out video footage of your entire day? It would most definitely concern me, however, this may be the reality that we live in. Pod Academy (2016) explains how our lives are constantly under the radar, not necessarily through video footage, but that our lives each day are tracked in various ways. They state “We willingly tag ourselves in specific locations through social media platforms, and freely use contactless cards and debit cards, which give retailers, banks and various other organizations information about our daily movement.” Although I was aware that my data is being tracked, and sold to advertisers, one thing that came as a shock to me was the banking and debit card portion of this statement. It seemed wrong and frightening to me that information that I thought all along was private was being sold without me knowing. The money that I spend and where I keep it is not something that I want very many others to know in my life so I felt violated upon finding out this information.
I often see the results of my data being sold on a daily basis when it comes to spam. Through my time surfing the internet, I have given my email, phone number, and other information to many websites, and I have since paid the price. I think that I receive a lot more spam texts, calls, and emails than the average person. So much to the point that it hardly even bothers me anymore. I also receive a lot of suspiciously convenient advertisements on Instagram and Youtube. Sometimes it feels as though my phone is listening to me, as an ad will come up just after I mention a product to one of my friends. Regardless, it does not bother me too much that I receive these advertisements, although it does frighten me what would happen if the data that has been collected on me is used for a more harmful purpose.
Pod Academy. 2016. “Digital breadcrumbs: The data trail we leave behind us.” http://podacademy.org/podcasts/digital-breadcrumbs-our-data-trail/
This week I was finally able to get down to the numbers, and by that, I mean the analytics from my website. I have always been fascinated by the statistics side of social media, and this came from when I used to have a Youtube Channel. On that channel, I would spend hours looking at the “Creator Studio” which told me my click-through rate, audience retention, and video impressions. Using google analytics reminded me of those fun times, so it was a breath of fresh air getting to dive into my website’s stats. The first statistic that caught my eye was the countries where users visit my site. I was surprised to see that someone had visited my website from China. Knowing that brought a whole new perspective to mind regarding accessibility. I realized that I should be more mindful that my audience could be from anywhere, and that I should make my website accessible for all. One statistic that I was disappointed to see, however, was the duration that users spend on my website. My average engagement time was just over 4 minutes. I think that posting more of my website’s main content (art reviews) will be the solution to capturing my audience’s retention as it is the more unique part of my site.
After learning about how social media platforms collect data from each of their users, I was able to connect the dots and find experiences where I felt annoyed that my data was being used. One example that shocked me was on my iPhone. Whenever I connect my phone to apple Car play, the map usually has directions set for where it thinks I am about to go. 90% of the time, the directions are set to the right spot, this blew my mind as it seemed like Apple knows my exact lifestyle day by day. I often wonder what apple does with that data and if it is sold to third parties. What scared me even further is the location services section in the settings app on my iPhone. When I clicked on that option, I was shown a map of every location that I had ever been to since I had purchased the phone. Although we have learned that this data is generally used to give advertisers more targeted advertising, I still feel somewhat violated by how much other companies know about my life.
“Frequent Locations” example from the settings app
When I first landed on the site by Kaia Crozier I was immersed in the feeling of tasty and sweet food. The green top of the site as well as the pictures of the cookies gave for a very warm welcome. Some other things that I like were the menu bar being centered, the carousel showcase for posts, and the photos alternating sides when you scroll down. One accessibility feature that I was impressed by was the light and dark mode feature for the menu bar. Lastly, when navigating Kaia’s site I had no problems when trying to find specific posts as the structuring and organization are well done.
There are also some design elements that I think could be improved upon. Firstly the title font that reads “Kafé Corrective”. I think that the title font does not totally fit in with the rest of the website’s aesthetic. The reason for this is that it just comes off as underwhelming in comparison to the other fonts used as well as the images. Some of the other placeholders for images on the site also have either blurry images or are left blank, giving the website an incomplete feel.
In terms of content, there was a lot that I liked. Kaia seemed to really understand her audience really well as the mini-assignment posts seemed very geared to that audience. Kaia also went into a lot of detail in her process posts and provided images where needed. I liked how Kaia made her content relatable for viewers by relating the recipes to things that other students struggle with. Kaia talks about how her attention span has decreased and how she has resorted to social media as an escape when stressed. She states that through her recipe content she plans to re-immerse in the present. As someone who experiences the same problem of using social media to dissociate, this made me a lot more interested in Kaia’s website.
Kafé Corrective, however, would be a lot more enjoyable with more content posted. That is my one critique of the content side of the webpage. Kaia seems to have set herself up greatly for her content by building up anticipation in her process posts. I hope to eventually return to the site to learn some yummy recipes.
In terms of marketing, Kaia has done a great job defining her niche. From what I gather, this niche seems to be students who feel like they have little time, but also need a way to clear their minds. This market segment seems like a great opportunity for me as I feel like there is little other content that is geared toward it. This makes Kaia’s website very marketable as she should be able to grow a community around her content. The specific niche that she is trying to foster will also eventually serve as an attraction for advertisers as they will like that she is able to deliver those advertisements to a specific demographic. To improve the Marketing of Kafé Corrective I think it would be useful for Kaia to provide links to her social media within the site and vice versa. I think this would further the digital identity of her site and also drive more traffic to her site.
By listening to the discussions on copyright this week, I put some thought in my spare time on how the digital has changed our understanding of the term “copying”. Although many may think that the same rules apply online such as copyright law, fair use, patents, etc, I think that there is quite a gray area online when it comes to copying. I think this grey area mainly takes place on social media. One example that illustrates my point is the youtube creator “Mr. Beast”. Mr. Beast is the largest individual creator on the platform and a genius when it comes to viral videos. He has amassed over 18 billion views on his channel and over 112 million subscribers. With that success, however, comes the main spotlight. Every move Mr. Beast makes, he is copied in some way or another. One specific way that I would like to point out is his video ideas. Youtubers across the platform shamelessly copy Mr. Beast’s ideas, thumbnails and titles word for word after he uploads them (a picture over this is shown below). Mr. Beast tweeted about the incident, trying to draw attention to this problem, and protect the creativity of his ideas. However, on platforms such as Youtube, there are hardly any repercussions to this type of copying so little was done about the incident. In fact the channel which copied (named A4) is still profiting off of these videos until this day, among hundreds of other creators doing the same thing. I think that social media platforms need to address and regulate this problem as the security of creators creative talent is at risk without it. Imagine if someone were able to re-distribute the Harry Potter books but simply change the names of the characters.
This week I also reflected on what I need to do to improve my website. Although I did not get much feedback from my peer review, I did have a look at the websites of others using the class google sheets. I saw a lot of really cool ideas as well as features that I want to implement myself. One element was to add animations to the buttons on my website. I think this would be a neat way to keep viewers interested. I also want to make my page between menus more eye-catching. For example when you click on “mini assignments” the page that features all of the mini assignments that I’ve done is somewhat bland. I want to add some images and more color to make things pop. Finally, I’ve realized that I need far more content posts as well as the organization of those posts.
For this week’s reading, one article that stuck out to me was Marwick Alice and Lewis Rebecca’s writing Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online. What drew me in was the first few paragraphs that explained that in 2016 Donald Trump was “memed” into office due to media manipulation from the alt-right. The article explained that through investigating Hilary Clinton’s leaked emails, users on the site 4chan were able to create narratives to spread to national media. These narratives that were either stretched, false, or in some cases true were able to manipulate the thoughts of millions and influence them against voting for Hilary Clinton. I was mind-blown by this phenomenon as it seemed outrageous that a small group could influence millions and alter the government of a country.
The article then explained that one method that the alt-right uses to manipulate media is “trolling”. Trolling is when messages are posted online with the intent of drawing out an emotional reaction from a group or individual. It is done with the motivation to point out flaws in the mainstream ways of thinking or to poke out hypocrisy (Lewis & Marwick, 2017). Upon reading this section I realized that I have experienced these tactics being used against me. This happened in high school when I was in the 9th grade. At this time during a computer studies course, one of my friends pulled up a video on his computer which was titled something like “feminist gets owned compilation”. He promised me that it would be a super funny video and that we should watch it together. The video was composed of feminists being trolled to the point where they seemed hysterical by their reactions. Looking back this video was designed to troll the viewers as well to either draw out an emotional response from them or to recruit viewers into the narrative of the alt-right. I’m glad that my friend and I were able to move on instead of having an emotional reaction and continuing to watch more videos.
Nowadays, however, I feel as though the alt-right messages are still being fed to today’s youth, just through new means. Instead of compilations on Youtube, I think that Tiktok may be the main way that the youth receive these messages. Through creators that have misogynistic views such as Andrew Tate or through the comment sections of videos; it seems as though it is “cooler” to promote feelings of animosity towards progressive groups such as LGTBQ activists, body positivity advocates, or those who call for racial equality. The theme that “it’s just a joke”, or that people who direct this negative energy are “just trolling” is the main way that they are able to deflect this blame. Examples as such show that online trolling is just as prevalent as in the early 2010s, meaning that each individual on the internet should constantly be on the lookout so that they do not give an emotional response or agree with the alt-right.
Lewis, R., & Marwick, A. (2017, May 15). Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online. Data & Society. https://datasociety.net/library/media-manipulation-and-disinfo-online/
For this week’s mini assignment I decided to apply the remixing concept to combine two ideas that I enjoy together. Those two ideas were the manga art style and video games. I went with this choice to showcase more unique art elements (which is the purpose of my website). Using Adobe Illustrator I made my own Playstation cover using a concept from a manga panel that I really liked. Below is the concept inspiration and the final result.
Website analysis week 6: OCt 18-2
Whenever I need inspiration for an artistic project, or a detailed infographic to model off of, or even just to browse through some cool stuff, my go-to website is “Behance”. Behance is a website made by adobe where creatives can go to post their work. The content on the website includes animations, infographics, videos, collages and so much more.
Adobe traditionally has really strong web designs, however since Behance is still one of their newer endeavors I think that it has its strengths and weaknesses.
The first thing that I think Adobe has done really well is their ease of use. The moment you land on the home page every function that is available is very clear. The first thing you will probably notice is the featured projects that are displayed. By hovering your mouse over these projects it is clear by the underlining of the title that you can view them in full scale. The other details related to these projects are also very clear, the thumbs-up icon shows the likes, and the eye icon shows the views. When your mouse hovers over the image it becomes tinted and gives the option to save the project to a collection. A new user could familiarize themselves with the interface fairly quickly and not be frustrated, which is most definitely a strength that Behance
Behance has also done a great job with the small details that make the site feel smooth. Their animations are noticeable but not distracting giving a balance between aesthetics and function. One example of this is when you click on any of the menu items under the search bar. When you do this the scale and position of the text simultaneously adjust to bring the word to the top corner of the rectangle making for a clean and simple animation.
The weaknesses of Behance’s design are fairly obvious to me. The moment I land on the main page everything just seems far too overwhelming. There is just too much going on at once. If Behance were to make better use of white space to allow more space between each project I think that the website would look a lot more clean. There are also three different lines of menus on the page. If one of the menus was folded up and only accessed if an arrow was clicked, it would also make the site easier on the eyes.
One bonus addition that I think would be cool to add (although it is not necessary) would be to make the projects fade in as you scroll down through them. I think this would add another element of interest for the user and add to the website’s overall feel.
Website development Week 5 october 10-16
This week I started posting my website’s main content! Through doing that I realized remembered why I chose this topic in the first place. I spent hours browsing through old saved collections of art that I have bookmarked on various social media sites, that I have in person and on random blogs. I found it really fun to look through, but very hard to chose from. I decided on separating my posts into categories of art. The first one that I chose was photography, I thought it was best to start out with something simple. Some other categories that I have in my head are fashion, digital art, film, music videos and iconic moments.
This week I also went through the feedback that I received on my first review. I have gone to work applying it by removing some of the leftover parts of the template that I have used and by creating my public posts. During the next few weeks, I’m going to continue to work on the rest of the feedback that was given. Some things I want to work on are adding more features for accessibility, creating sub-menus, making my posts more organized and adding more flashy features on my homepage.
After doing this week’s readings I also thought about how I could apply that knowledge to my own site. The idea of digital gardens on Tanya’s digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet was very intriguing to me. I understood the concept as allowing your creativity to flow fully by creating a page not restricted by conventional social media formats to express your passions. The article also talked about how this idea of digital gardens allows all ideas to get their shine as it’s not like Twitter or Facebook where a couple of posts go viral per day. After reading the article I think that digital gardens are a great way for people to get to express and do what they actually like without having to worry about numbers and statistics. One idea that I want to incorporate from this article into my own site is creating my own original format. I think that viewers may be more drawn to my site if I make it stand out from others. Another idea that I really liked was being able to go back into older posts and edit them to improve them. While I may not implement this one myself I think its a great way to keep your content at its best. A lot of the time when we look back at our old work it seems flawed and outdated. By constantly editing and improving all of the content one has on the webpage the audience will always be faced with your best and updated work keeping them fully engaged.
When creating content, distributing it or moderating it one thing that is always kept in mind is correctly appealing to the targeted audience. The virtual space is democratic due to creators and distributors having to match the demand that their audience brings with a supply of content. The implication of this supply and demand equilibrium is that the content that the majority of online society wants to see will rise to the surface and that the content that is not regarded in good light by the majority will sink to the bottom, evening the playing field for all and providing democracy. One area where democracy is shown is by allowing those with the best ideas and content to succeed and grow. One area where democracy seems to fall short is in the regulation of creators on social media platforms
When we look at social media platforms such as Youtube, Instagram, TikTok, or others we often find success stories where individuals are able to use these social media platforms as a tool to change their lives forever. This is a reflection of the democracy within social media. By fulfilling a demand of an audience within these platforms, one can curate a successful career regardless of income, race, sexuality, etc. A vital example of this effect is Tiktok megastar, Khaby Lame who currently has 151 million followers on the platform. However it was not always this way, Khabane Lame started off with humble beginnings as a factory worker who was laid off from his job during the 2020 Covid pandemic (Stokel-Walker, 2022). He started to make videos on Tiktok and was able to capitalize due to his understanding of exactly what was demanded in terms of content. Khaby’s videos are quick and comedic refutal videos that respond to life hacks. Many huge accounts were posting “life hacks” that really made no sense and just overcomplicated the solution to a problem. Khaby realized that there were many people who found these videos to be silly and gave that audience what they wanted which was a mockery of these life hack videos. Since Khaby was able to fullfill this demand he was able to generate millions of views and create an audience that was eager to see more. In this function, social media is democratic as anyone is able to appeal to the curve of demand in social media.
Social media also has a self-regulating system of democracy that chooses which people should be allowed on these social media platforms. That form of self-regulation is a modern phenomenon known as cancel culture. Cancel culture works by pooling together the moral compasses of thousands of people to create a radar that decides who deserves to be on platforms and who doesn’t. In theory, this principle uses democracy fully as it reflects the opinions of the majority, and everyone should be tried the same way within cancel culture; however, what tends to happen is that cancel culture works on some people and does not on others. An example of this can be seen within the examples of two individuals, Sienna Mae and Cardi B. Sienna Mae is a Titkok star known for her content about body positivity, who is widely famous on the platform. In may of 2021 Mae was accused of sexual assault by her former friend Jack Wright (Mendez et al., 2022). Video evidence was shown of Sienna Mae kissing Wright when he was sleeping and touching him inappropriately. After this ensued, Sienna issued an apology but was still ostracized to return to social media. Similarly, popular rapper Cardi B admitted to drugging men, and robbing them during her time as a sex worker (Grady, 2019). Cardi B however is still in constant praise by the media, and her career has been thriving more than ever, whereas Sienna Mae has still been struggling to return to social media over a year later. There are numerous more examples similar to these, exposing the flaws in cancel culture. The reason for this flaw that we can gather from these examples is that cancel culture does not act on the moral decisions of every person on social media, it just takes into account the people who are familiar on the situation. For that reason those with certain fanbases who make up the majority of the people who are familiar with the situation can defend the person who is being canceled. While cancel culture holds some accountable, it also acts as platform drama for others to profit off for others (Lewis & Christin, 2022).
The playing field of democracy in social media is also controlled by censorship and guidelines from the social media platforms themselves. This is justified as each platform has there own terms and conditions as well as guidelines to make sure their platforms aren’t just filled with a dialogue of inappropriate insults. For these guidelines to be democratic they should apply for everyone equally. However what often happens is that the higher the follower count someone has on one of these platforms, the more likely they are to get away with breaking these guidelines. A very transparent and concrete example is one that occurred on the streaming platform of twitch. One of the most followed streamers on the platform, “Pokimane” was live when she accidentally showed around 3 seconds of pornographic content due to a prank from a viewer. While it was an accident, Twitch has a policy to ban any individual from streaming for one to three days if this type of offense occurs. Another smaller streamers known as “YourfellowArab” was even given a strike for doing the same thing. However as Pokimane is the face of the platform she was not given a ban (Fischer, 2020). In cases like these it is blatantly obvious that there is a double standard for larger creators, and viewers did call out Twitch for their mistake. However many times smaller “passes” are awarded to larger creators weakening the democracy for all users.
From these examples, we can see that social media does not fully encompass democracy on its platforms. Each of us users have a responsibility to hold social media platforms accountable for their flaws and act in the best interest of democracy when using them.
Fischer, T. (2020, May 22). Pokimane Responds to Those Demanding She Be Banned From Twitch After Showing Porn on a Livestream. GAMING. https://comicbook.com/gaming/news/pokimane-stream-shows-porn-twitch-stream-banned/
Grady, C. (2019, March 28). Cardi B says she used to drug and rob men. Her image will probably survive. Vox. https://www.vox.com/culture/2019/3/27/18284220/cardi-b-drug-rob-controversy-scandal
Lewis, R., & Christin, A. (2022). Platform drama: “Cancel culture,” celebrity, and the struggle for accountability on YouTube. New Media &Amp; Society, 24(7), 1632–1656. https://doi.org/10.1177/14614448221099235
Mendez, M., II, Tenbarge, K., Bergman, S., & Perrett, C. (2022, January 22). A timeline of all the accusations that TikTok star Sienna Mae Gomez sexually assaulted her former friend Jack Wright. Insider. https://www.insider.com/sienna-mae-gomez-jack-wright-video-sexual-assault-allegations-timeline-2021-6
Stokel-Walker, C. (2022, July 9). Khaby Lame: from factory job to king of TikTok. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/jul/09/khaby-lame-from-factory-job-to-king-of-tiktok